10.02.2016

North East cancer patients first in the NHS to benefit from charity founded by Trevor Sorbie

A new service set up by celebrity hairdresser, Trevor Sorbie, for patients affected by cancer, was launched at the Freeman Hospital’s Northern Centre for Cancer Care (NCCC) today.

mynewhair is a national charity dedicated to supporting individuals with medical hair loss. They are joining forces with cancer care specialists in Newcastle to introduce an innovative new approach by offering this service and information for the professionals, in a hospital setting.

Trevor Sorbie with former cancer patient Helen McIntyre

Trevor Sorbie, Patron and founder of the charity said:  "I am delighted with the development of this exciting collaboration. We are going to be helping so many more people in the North East with our partnership working with the Northern Centre for Cancer Care.

“It is really important that we take every opportunity to help people at a time when they most need it. mynewhair is not just about hair. It is psychological medicine for everyone suffering from hair loss through illness....it is the missing link in their treatment."

mynewhair means that patients undergoing cancer treatments such as some types of chemotherapy which can cause medical hair loss, and patients with alopecia, will be able to access specially trained hairdressers who offer a wig customisation service. For cancer patients in and around Newcastle, they can now see a trained hairdresser either at the RVI in the city centre, or at salon near their home through the network of mynewhair salons.

Linda and Catherine (Hairdressers from the Salon at the RVI, NCCC Matron Peter Towns, and Darren from Tribecca Salon in East Boldon)

Peter Towns, Matron for the Northern Centre for Cancer Care says: “When mynewhair approached us with their idea for a new partnership we jumped at the chance. Our patients have access to the very latest cancer treatment techniques at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care, and we know that many of the powerful therapies needed can affect other aspects of their health and wellbeing.

“At a time when they can feel everything is out of their control, patients often enjoy being able to choose different ways of looking after their emotional feelings and how they look.  We have a number of holistic schemes to help here and Mynewhair is a wonderful example of how we can offer more support. We are delighted to have them on board.”

Patient Story

Helen McIntyre of Kiln Pitt Hill was diagnosed on 15th July 2013 with cancer of the left breast at the age of 47. She had treatment at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care in Newcastle.  Helen – mum to a 14 year old daughter - tells her story and how mynewhair helped to support her, through her cancer journey.

“The first part of my treatment required a biopsy to be taken then removal of the cancerous lump. An additional operation followed to remove cancerous nodes from under my left arm, and I opted to have the remaining 17 lymph nodes removed as a precautionary measure. My Consultant Oncologist advised a treatment regime of six months of chemotherapy, three weeks of radiotherapy and 18 doses of herceptin.  My treatment was to last 18 months.

Whilst having the lump and lymph glands removed I tried to prepare myself both mentally and physically for losing my hair. Before my treatment started I went to see a hairdresser trained by mynewhair at the Tribecca Salon in East Boldon.  Darren was fantastic and suggested several wigs to match my hair, as I really wanted the wig to be identical to the hair I currently had.  He reassured me the hair would be a good match and gave me confidence to try the wig before the hair loss started.

After the second batch of chemotherapy my hair fell out in clumps.  It was most obvious in the morning when I woke up - handfuls of hair would be lying on the pillow. During the day hair stuck to my mouth, got up my nose and this all made me feel very agitated. So I made the decision to have a friend shave all my hair off. We did this at home as I felt this would give me some time in private to get used to the feeling. I think my friend was more nervous than I was... we dreaded the act of cutting the remaining hair off. I made jokes about losing my hair as my friend’s eyes filled up with tears. It is a stark change to your own body image going from medium length hair to millimetres, and then, within a matter of days, being completely bald.

No one could quite prepare me for that feeling of losing all my self-esteem.

Whilst I was losing my hair I went back to see Darren. He fitted the wig properly for me and he showed me how to apply the wig sock, tighten and care for my wig. The wig fitted perfectly...even though it did take some time to adjust to.

Once I had gone completely bald, I spent three days at home adjusting to the change in my own body image. During the next few days I never looked in a mirror.... I couldn't bear to see myself with no hair. Eventually after four days I arranged to meet up with friends.  I did not want to draw attention to myself as a cancer patient. I just wanted to be the Helen they knew. It was a huge milestone wearing the wig for the first time, trying to feel self-confident and not just putting on a brave face for the people around me ....I just wanted to feel normal.

After some tears and lots of encouragement from my husband and teenage daughter I started meeting up with my friends again and this was a huge boost to my emotional wellbeing. The wig was so like my own hair only those I chose to tell knew it wasn't and this really did make a difference.

I have worked as a nurse in palliative care for 25 years and have cared for adults and children who have cancer and never thought it would happen to me. You would have thought this would have prepared me for what I was encountering, but it didn’t.

What I do know is wearing a properly fitted, styled wig allowed me not to be recognised as an individual undergoing cancer treatment, but as Helen McIntyre who blended in with the crowd, and that, at the end of the day, was all I wanted.

Losing my hair as a woman is probably the hardest thing I have had to go through. But the support and advice I received from the mynewhair salon made the experience more manageable, not only for me, but for all my family and friends around me, and for that, I will always be so very grateful.”  


ENDS

For more information please contact Lynn Watson, Marketing Projects Lead on 0191 223 1543

Notes to Editors:

mynewhair

mynewhair is a pioneering new charity founded by Trevor Sorbie MBE.  It provides public and professional advice and support a national network of independent salons and professionals who provide a wig styling service for people suffering from cancer and medical hair loss.

Thousands of people have already benefited from mynewhair and this new partnership with the Northern Centre for Cancer Care builds on the current professional understanding of the patients’ needs, with commitment from both teams.

Find out more at www.mynewhair.org

About the Northern Centre for Cancer Care

The Northern Centre for Cancer Care is the largest specialist cancer centre of its kind in the North of England seeing over 1300 patients from as far north as Berwick upon Tweed, across the Whitehaven and down into Durham every year.

The Award-winning, state of the art building has access to the very latest technology providing a level of care unparalleled anywhere else in the UK.

An integral part of our centre is the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre – a purpose-built facility which provides the ideal environment for the ground-breaking research carried out by our world-leading cancer specialists.

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